Continuous paravertebral block using a thoracoscopic catheter-insertion technique for postoperative pain after thoracotomy: a retrospective case-control study. Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery volume 12, Article number: 5 (2017)
To place the PV catheter at the T4-5 level, the authors used an in-plane transverse technique under ultrasound guidance, with the probe in a transverse orientation. After identifying the anatomic landmarks on ultrasound, a 17-gauge Tuohy needle was advanced in a lateral to medial direction, until the tip was beneath the transverse process. For all recipients in the study, the authors further confirmed correct PV catheter placement with real-time infusion of a local anesthetic (1-3 mL of 1.5% lidocaine with epinephrine 1:200,000); they were able to visualize on ultrasound the spread from the tip of the catheter.
Once it was confirmed that the tip remained in position, the PV catheter was secured with skin glue (Dermabond®, Ethicon, Inc.; Somerville, NJ). Next, at the PV catheter insertion site, the authors placed an occlusive dressing on a chlorhexidine-impregnated sponge (BioPatch®, Johnson & Johnson Wound Management, a division of Ethicon, Inc.; Somerville, NJ). The PV catheter was connected to an elastomeric pump (ON-Q®, Halyard Health, Alpharetta, GA), an infusion of 0.2% ropivacaine was started at a rate of 0.2 to 0.25 mL/kg/h; the maximum dose was 7 mL/h per side in bilateral lung transplant recipients and 14 mL/h in unilateral single-lung transplant recipients.
Under sterile conditions and while patients still were in the lateral position with the diseased side up, a linear ultrasound transducer (10-12 MHz) was placed in a sagittal plane over the midclavicular region of the thoracic cage. Then the ribs were counted down until the fifth rib was identified in the midaxillary line (Fig 1).18 The following muscles were identified overlying the fifth rib: the latissimus dorsi (superficial and posterior), teres major (superior), and serratus muscles (deep and inferior). The needle (a 22-gauge, 50-mm Touhy needle) was introduced in plane with respect to the ultrasound probe, targeting the plane superficial to the serratus anterior muscle (Fig 2). Under continuous ultrasound guidance, 30 mL of 0.25% levobupivacaine was injected, and then a catheter was threaded. A continuous infusion of 5 mL/hour of 0.125% levobupivacaine then was started through the catheter.
Effect of Continuous Paravertebral Dexmedetomidine Administration on Intraoperative Anesthetic Drug Requirement and Post-Thoracotomy Pain Syndrome After Thoracotomy: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JCVA February 2017. Volume 31, Issue 1, Pages 159–165.
After speaking to a colleague of mine regarding regional anesthesia for thoracotomy and mastectomy, I am reading up on Erector Spinae Plane (ESP) block.
- Rib fractures
- Continuous Erector Spinae Plane Block for Rescue Analgesia in Thoracotomy After Epidural Failure: A Case Report. A & A Case Reports. 8(10):254–256, MAY 2017.
- The Erector Spinae Plane Block: A Novel Analgesic Technique in Thoracic Neuropathic Pain. Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. Volume 41, Number 5, September-October 2016.
- The Ultrasound-Guided Continuous Erector Spinae Plane Block for Postoperative Analgesia in Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Lobectomy. Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine: July/August 2017 – Volume 42 – Issue 4 – p 537.
Erector spinae plane block as an alternative to epidural analgesia for post-operative analgesia following video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery: A case study and a literature review on the spread of local anaesthetic in the erector spinae plane. Indian J Anaesth. 2018 Jan; 62(1): 75–78.
- Mastectomy/Breast reconstruction
- Abdominal surgery
- Continuous Erector Spinae Plane (ESP) Analgesia In Different Open Abdominal Surgical Procedures: A Case Series. Journal of Anesthesia and Surgery. https://doi.org/10.15436/2377-1364.18.1853.
Bilateral Continuous Erector Spinae Plane Block Contributes to Effective Postoperative Analgesia After Major Open Abdominal Surgery: A Case Report. A&A Practice: December 1, 2017 – Volume 9 – Issue 11 – p 319–321
Ultrasound-Guided Erector Spinae Plane Block in Patients Undergoing Open Epigastric Hernia Repair: A Prospective Randomized Controlled Study. Anesthesia & Analgesia: July 2019 – Volume 129 – Issue 1 – p 235-240
- Cardiac surgery
- Continuous Erector Spinae Plane (ESP) Block for Postoperative Analgesia after Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Surgery. October 2018Volume 32, Issue 5, Pages 2271–2274.
- Comparison of continuous thoracic epidural analgesia with bilateral erector spinae plane block for perioperative pain management in cardiac surgery. Ann Card Anaesth 2018;21:323-7.
Continuous ESP block catheter (my current regimen and what I’m able to get at my institution):
- Braun Periflex catheter through 17g epidural needle
- Cranial-to-caudal approach @ T5 (mastectomy, vats, rib fractures)
- 20ml 0.25% bupi + epi prior to catheter
- Catheter 5cm in space
- 5 ml 0.25% bupi + epi after catheter placed
- Mix: 0.125% bupi + fentanyl @ 10 ml/hr
- If PCEA available, bolus 15ml every 3 hours; continuous as mix above.
In residency, you learn to deal with many different personalities. This ranges from super sweet and helpful to utterly cruel and egotistical. At MGH, our CA-3 year was spent running the call schedule on night call (the first-call experience). It’s a terrific experience in prioritizing as well as organizing your team to prepare for what rolls through the OR doors. Fast forward 4 years and now I’m in private practice.
While running the schedule on call, I get a call from the trauma surgeon saying a patient with an epidural hematoma needs to come to the OR emergently and couldn’t wait for another anesthesiologist to be called in from home (home call gives an anesthesiologist 30 minutes to come into the hospital for an emergency). So, I made the executive decision to pull the anesthesiologist from the elective suboccipital craniotomy case to do the emergency. It was a crani to crani and neuro to neuro switch… meaning the neuro team and crani trays were already open and ready to go. It made the most sense in my mind. Of course, without missing a beat, the “elective” neurosurgeon showed complete disdain of my decision. To add fuel to the fire, he proceeded to berate the OR nurses, myself, and staff to make sure his displeasure was known. I stood by my decision because it was the best decision for the emergency craniotomy patient who could have potentially died. Secondly, I chose not to call in my final anesthesiologist for an elective case as we would have gone on “trauma bypass”. This means that no traumas or emergencies could come to our hospital. The “elective” neurosurgeon became more livid by the minute. 2.5 hours after he was supposed to start his case, I finished my first case and was able to get his case started.
Now, who does an elective suboccipital craniotomy for tumor case on a Saturday? Secondly, he decides to do this in a sitting position — this has it’s own sets of risks. He needed a precordial doppler, which our hospital did not have, so we called for it from our neighboring sister hospital. In the meantime, I had another plan…that was to put down a TEE probe to monitor for venous air embolism (VAE). After speaking to the patient and family, I proceeded to explain the risks/benefits of arterial line, central venous line, transesophageal echo, mechanical ventilation, blood transfusion, and intensive care unit stay. It’s always a lot for the family to comprehend, especially while meeting them for the first time. However, it is our job as anesthesiologists to make them comfortable and calm their fears.
**This picture taken from a google search for “precordial doppler”. It is not my own.**
**This picture taken from a google search for “precordial doppler”. It is not my own.**
We get to the room and proceed with vital signs monitoring. Uneventful induction and intubation. A right internal jugular vein central venous line is placed (mainly to use as a Bunegin-Albin catheter). TEE probe placed to look for air in RV and possibly air lock and RV failure –> VAE. Radial arterial line placed and transduced at the level of the head. Pt was placed in Mayfield pins and positioned in steep sitting position with reverse Trendelenberg and flexing the legs up. Neuromonitoring commenced looking for changes in sensory and motor signaling.
All throughout the case, the TEE showed various amounts of air coming through the right side of the heart:
With greater amounts of air, there would be a detectable decrease in blood pressure as well as end-tidal CO2. While the right ventricle was still capable of pushing blood forward, I simply increased the blood pressure pharmacologically and increased the patient’s volume with normal saline from the IV. Rarely does one get to see this TEE view as most of these cases are monitored non-invasively via pre-cordial doppler or ETCO2 and BP.
Lastly, this patient had a great outcome. A 2cm x 2 cm hemangioma was resected with minimal disruption or trauma to surrounding tissue. 2 hours after a lengthy 4 hour surgery, the patient was sitting with their family… communicating and interacting with them. All motor and sensory intact.
Pearls from this case:
1) Always do what is best for the patient. When a life-and-death situation presents itself, it gets priority. Period. It doesn’t matter what pressure or temper tantrums you get from outside parties. Make the best clinical decision. Organize a plan. Stick with it.
2) Find out the surgeon’s plan. This case was not booked in sitting position. Some of these cases are done in prone position, which makes the likelihood of VAE significantly lower than in sitting position. Knowing the surgeon’s plan of attack is critical to an anesthetic plan.
3) Read. Read. And read more. Although I’ve been out of residency and fellowship for 4 years, cases will always test your knowledge as well as make you learn new skills/techniques to better your plan. Take the time to do your best. Always review. Medicine is a lifelong learning career.
4) Don’t sweat the small stuff. The “elective” neurosurgeon who raised such hell at the beginning of the case was thanking me for my help and expertise by the end of the case. Learn as much as you can from your residency. Take the knowledge gained and let your clinical acumen do the talking. There is no room for ego when taking care of a patient. Your ability to be well-read, well-trained, and well-respected will dictate the tone. No fluff is needed when you bring 100% to the table. Don’t be intimidated by the loud bark.